AI: I consider my music roots by way of indie. I draw certain aspects of my sound from traditional American folk, blues, and country. However, I maintain my own stylistic variety.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AI: My first record consisted of predominantly interpersonal expression with elements of the natural world. Currently, I am focusing my songwriting outward and drawing from our current political and social climate.
CH.89: What made you want to start your own music project?
AI: I compiled a collection of originals that I felt were ready to release. I wanted to create a physical embodiment of my art, and felt that creating a full-length album would satisfy this desire. During my first project, I found myself in a transitional period and working on it brought me balance.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?
AI: I write the songs as they come to me. It could be on the ridge overlooking the Mississippi River Valley in Minnesota, or at a fried chicken joint in Memphis. Once I have fifteen or so songs, I pick and choose what I want to put on an album.
CH.89: What would you want people/ the listener to take from your music?
AI: I want to give the listener the same enjoyment that I experience from my favorite artists. Since I spend a lot of time working on lyrics, I hope that the listener can relate to the stories I tell.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
AI: Currently, my life has been quite busy. With going to school, working, arranging shows, and recording, it is important to find time for writing lyrics and expanding my musical parameters. Gigging is my favorite part of being an artist because I enjoy connecting with people before and after shows.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
AI: When I am in the studio and on a deadline, I am goal orientated. However, I do not put boundaries and constraints on the writing songs. On one occasion, I was walking through downtown La Crosse and I started hearing melodies and phrases in my head. I ran five blocks home in my Dr. Martens to grab a guitar and scribble “Great Plains” down.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
AI: For the most part, what really matters as an artist is one’s influences. Nothing is completely original, so what is interesting are the ingredients in the stew. I distinguish myself by incorporating personal experiences, as well as topics associated with marginalized individuals and communities into my lyrics.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
AI: Finding my audience. Despite the inherent benefits of digital age, finding avenues to share my music remains difficult.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
AI: The colorful folks I have met through music. I have experienced an array of entertaining and unusual situations. An example occurred the last time I was in Duluth, Minnesota. A drifter, who introduced himself as “Wandering Wolf,” came up to me after I played and said that we were kindred spirits and to follow your path. There are very few certainties in the music business, but unpredictability remains a constant.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
AI: All roads lead back to Bob Dylan. When I was a toddler my father read Dylan lyrics to me before bed. As a teenager, Dylan inspired me to learn the guitar and write lyrics. Dylan’s ability to reinvent himself in the American image continues to amaze me to this day. More contemporary artists that inspire me are Ike Reilly and Drive By Truckers. Their commitment to maintaining socially relevant music encourages me to do the same.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
AI: Technology is not just useful, it is essential for musicians. Establishing a presence online allows me to reach people across the country and even around the world including Sweden, the U.K., and Spain.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
AI: Having a special needs brother makes me embrace opportunities. I have watched him work extremely hard to overcome challenges in his path. By living with him and working with his friends, I do not worry about conforming to societal norms. I am free to express myself and it enhances my artistic output.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
AI: Traveling is the best part of playing music. Exploring a city before a show provides an opportunity to experience its flavor. Going to Memphis was incredibly enriching. Seeing the origins of Rock ‘n’ Roll at Sun Studios encouraged me. It blew me away to stand where Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins recorded. I would be lying if I said I did not kiss the spot where these early Rock icons stood… I guess I am not the first musician from Minnesota to do that.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
AI: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?
AI: Just keep on keeping on.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
AI: Having the opportunity to express myself and share my music. I get an indescribable “high” from playing shows and entertaining people. I have invested a lot of time and energy into my songs, so it is important for me to ensure this momentum continues. As long as I am able, I will continue to entertain my audience.
CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?
AI: What it Means – Drive By Truckers
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?
AI: The greatest musical forms of the twentieth century come from America. Popular music is a melting pot just like our country, and I just am trying to contribute to that heritage. The aesthetic of my music is American.